CFI, Council for Secular Humanism Press for Oversight Hearing on Faith Based Initiative

June 21, 2010

On June 18, 2010 the Center for Inquiry and its affiliate the Council for Secular Humanism joined more than two dozen other organizations in calling for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties to hold an oversight hearing to examine the current status of the Faith-Based Initiative.  The  letter from the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination , addressed to Chairman Jerrold Nadler, read in part:

As a candidate, President Obama promised to reinstate constitutionally required religious liberty protections and end federally funded religious discrimination in the Faith-Based Initiative. Yet, eighteen months after President Obama's inauguration, the White House and all the federal agencies are still operating under the same inadequate safeguards against proselytizing and insufficient constitutional protections imposed by the previous Administration. 

During the Bush Administration, Mr. Chairman, you helped lead the successful congressional opposition to the insertion of statutory "charitable choice" provisions, the codification of the Bush Administration's Faith-Based Initiative, and other efforts to further entrench these provisions. We now request that your Subcommittee examine the current Administration's implementation of the Faith-Based Initiative and its failure to date to implement critically needed reforms. We recommend that a hearing examine (1) the Administration's efforts to reform the religious liberty provisions of the Faith-Based Initiative; and (2) the Administration's policy on federally funded religious discrimination, including efforts, if any, to review and repeal the flawed June 29, 2007, Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Memorandum interpreting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).

 Last year CFI published a detailed report addressing the Obama administration's expansion of government funding for "Faith-Based Initiatives," in which taxpayer dollars are doled out to sectarian religious organizations for the performance of social service programs.  Under Bush-era rules, recipients of taxpayer funding for faith-based programs are allowed to flout civil rights protections by engaging in employment discrimination on the basis of religion. CFI has vowed to continue its fight against government-funded religious discrimination.

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